The big social networks are still finding new ways to innovate and introduce new features, even though they’re years old at this point. Don’t be fooled – just because networks like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest aren’t shiny and new doesn’t mean that their updates don’t constantly influence the way businesses conduct online marketing. 2014 was still a huge year for the big social players!
If you’re just now deciding whether or not to start a new social media marketing strategy, make sure you catch up on the latest social media news and updates before you start planning for the New Year.
Before you spend time searching the news stories to find out what’s next in social media, check out the biggest updates to social networks in 2014!
Facebook’s biggest update for businesses was announced in December – new tools and insights for businesses are coming for 2015! The exciting announcement came as a result of feedback from publishers who need more social media marketing tools than just paid options. Facebook is introducing interest targeting for organic posts that allows you to target a subset of people who like your page so only that subset sees your post. Facebook will also give publishers the option to add a Post End Date to prevent users from seeing out-of-date posts from your business. Finally, Facebook will introduce Smart Publishing to help businesses publish the most relevant and timely posts automatically. Besides the Facebook redesign in March and the News Feed algorithm update in June, these new tools are the biggest Facebook news for businesses in 2014!
2014 was a big year for Twitter. Following its late-year IPO in 2013, Twitter created a new desktop design that radically changed the layout of the social network. The network then added Promoted Accounts to Twitter search so businesses could suggest their account to users searching on a similar topic. In July, Twitter helped businesses out in a big way by expanding Twitter Analytics so businesses could find out more about those following them as well as other users who show interest in their brand or activities. In the final months of the year Twitter also made strides in the e-commerce market by adding the “Buy” button to tweets as well as adding Offers to help businesses drive urgency with deals. All these features helped Twitter to solidify its presence in the top of the social media world, and businesses would do well to take advantage of these features in the New Year.
After a few years of wild success with consumers, Pinterest began building its network for businesses in 2014 by adding a number of advertising and analytics tools to help businesses connect with potential customers. In March, Pinterest has announced a new Gifts Feed specifically for Product Pins, meaning that they’re tied directly to the retailer and users can purchase directly from Pinterest. Soon after, Pinterest introduced Guided Search, which suggests multiple descriptive “guides” to help you narrow your search (similar to the suggestions that pop up when you search via Google). As the popularity of Pinterest’s advertising products grew, the network added new advertising products to will help grow your Pinterest following and help you track conversions to help determine ROI and give you insight into your audience. To boost organic engagement and foster better content, Pinterest began suggesting content based on user behavior in October with a new product called Pin Picks. With these updates for businesses, Pinterest took a major step towards the e-commerce and advertising success of Facebook and Twitter.
Google+ started out 2014 with an important change in engagement with Google+ followers – Google added a feature that allows you to email connections in your circles, even if you don’t have their email addresses. This change made it easy for businesses to connect with potential clients in a safe way, but Google+ announced several months later that it was re-evaluating its real name policy, making it easier for users to create accounts under fake names or aliases. This second change makes the first update less valuable since there’s no guarantee that a follower is a real person (or at least who you think they are!), but Google+’s email functionality still gives businesses better access to their followers. In June of 2014, though, Google+ took a big step forward with Analytics and My Business. The new analytics provides more data about how your social content performs, and Google My Business unifies business from Search, Maps and Google+ to give business owners a bigger picture of what consumers see when they’re searching for their business. These tools integrate Google+ further with your business’ online presence.
In April Instagram started its wave of big changes, most notably the personalization of the “Explore” tab. In addition to the most popular Instagram content, the “Explore” tab began displaying photos and videos that people you follow have liked, which makes it more relevant for each user. Then, in June, Instagram released new editing tools that went beyond filters to adjust brights, contrast, saturation and more. The most exciting update for Instagram came in August, when the network released Account insights, Ad insights and Ad staging. These tools help brands monitor the overall reaction to their posts and campaigns. For those who are fans of Instagram video, the social network released the new Hyperlapse app in September – an app that allows users to create time-lapse videos that are easy to make and more functional because of the app’s built-in stabilization technology. We’ll continue to look out for Instagram updates in 2015 as their business offering gets better and better.
There you have it – the most important updates for the top social networks to keep you up-to-date for the year ahead! Stay tuned in our Next in Social Media series to see what 2015 has in store!